A Hobson’s Choice

So imagine this: you are sitting in the back of a jeep, rolling along smooth pavement in the Thar desert toward the border of India and Pakistan, the sun is slipping past mid-day, warm wind is blowing in your face, and you pass a shepherd dressed in white cloth and a bright orange turban and, in the distance, the elegantly thin bodies of gazelle, the jeep racing below sand carved dunes dunes rising up into the afternoon sky, a camel high on one of the ridges stretching its neck as far as it can reach to nibble on the succulent low branches of a single tree.


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And your daughter, now nine years old, her blond hair leaping in the wind, smiling blue eyes scanning—with a kind of detached but alert expression only possible in a little girl—the wide open spaces of the desert; and then you, talking about what it might be like to ride camels and sleep on the sand in the desert under the stars, saying that you’ve been missing–actually feeling a fierce longing–for the solace of open spaces, in particular a few nights sleeping out of doors, and that a bedroll on the sand would better than anything that you could think of at the moment, just being outside, really, whether in a tent or in the open, it really doesn’t matter, and asking her which would you choose and then she, without a pause to think, with a little smile breaking across the smooth white skin of her face, says, “but dad, that’s a Hobson’s choice.” 




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